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Which would you choose--a 36" rangetop or higher BTU on 30"?

I have a dilemma and am looking at two completely different options to replace an existing range. We currently have a 20 year old Jenn-Air dual fuel downdraft that is 30". Although we have had no problems with it, it is going because I want to install new countertops (and it is starting to show its age visually). My guess is the highest power burner is maybe 12K to 14K with smaller burners in the 8K range. They are all open burners, and all will maintain a really good simmer. Because we live in the cold and snowy north, we actually use the grill on top a couple times a month during the winter months. I also have a separate wall oven so oven size isn't a very big concern for me.

I have two very different options I am deciding between and am trying to decide which is the best for me.

Option A is a Bluestar or American Range Performer with all of the associated firepower. These would be 30" models. Option B is a 36" Aga Legacy I found on clearance as a floor model. We have figured out how to manage the logistics of each option, so that is not the issue. I've read pretty favorable comments from users of all of these ranges. My problem is what really is the best choice for us. Aesthetics and performance both come into play here.

Option A has four burners with two really powerful burners (either two 22K or 25K depending on if I go with the Bluestar RNB or the American Range Performer.) But, I wonder if I really need this much power. These have huge ovens with a ceramic broiler, and they have open burners which I understand are probably preferable. I am also a bit concerned about how much heat these will emanate into my kitchen.

Option B is a 36" Aga Legacy which is a vintage look (to go with my vintage type kitchen) and is completely different from Option A. It would give me more space on top to cook, and is dual fuel with multiple small ovens. In some ways the choice of using a smaller oven is probably a wise choice for two people. The burners are sealed (not my first choice, but I could live with this as a tradeoff). It has five burners-- two 9,200, one 5K, one 15K, and one 12K. The ovens suposedly work really well as does the broiler.

We are empty nesters but do cook a couple times a month for about ten people. I consider myself definitely an above average cook, but I am by no means a foodie or someone who is constantly turning out four course gourmet meals. We aren't huge meat eaters so aren't constantly broiling or cooking huge slabs of meat. I like to do some stir fries sometime, but never having had anything very powerful I don't know what that would be like. And, it isn't as though I'd be woking several times a week. I used to bake a lot more than I do now, and don't know if I'll get back to that too much since if I bake it I eat it (something that isn't good for my weight).

I want a color range because liking the looks of my kitchen is important to me too. I have been following many posts both here and at gardenweb about various brands. If you were in my shoes, would you opt for the 30" that is more powerful (that I am not 100% convinced I need the firepower on) or the larger 36" with the more spacious rangetop? Price is a factor but not the driving force here. The floor model Aga Legacy falls between the more pricey Bluestar and the American which would be a couple hundred less than the Legacy.

These are our final choices and we are not going to look at the more pricey 36" Bluestar or AR.

Thanks for your help.

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  1. Nobody "needs" a Bluestar,AR Performer Series,or an Aga Legacy.

    A $400 Frigidaire range will turn raw food into cooked food.

    Everyone can use the power of a top notch powerful burner. From searing ,sauteing,woking,boiling water, quickly recovering temperature after dropping cold food into hot pan.For some dishes this power is irrelevant but for some it will give you significantly better results.

    You can always turn down the 22-25K btu burners to 5-15k btu and the heat they put into your kitchen but you can't turn a 15k btu burner past its max to 22-25k btu.

    I would get the BS/AR range and a countertop oven like the Breville Smart Oven or the Cadco Quarter Oven for the small jobs. That is not a lot more money for the best of both worlds.

    1. Dee--

      Thanks for the input. Yes, I realize no one really needs one of these, and I also realize I am caught up in the hype of high-end range marketing. But, if I am going to make the investment and I'll be living with this decision for a long time, I really want to make sure I have considered everything.

      That is why I am debating if for me I'd benefit from having the larger rangetop space or the more powerful burner with less width on the rangetop.

      1. Sounds like you're leaning towards the Aga, but are worried that you're giving up the power that many covet. You probably don't need it. I cook a lot of Chinese food, so I'd be tempted by the Bluestar, but for you I'd go with the Aga.

        1. What a fine dilemma you have! You don't indicate how you use the ovens. If you bake a lot, make sure the Aga's space works for your tasks. Even if you only make a few batches of cookies, you need to make sure the oven space will fit your needs.

          If you're not concerned about cooktop BTUs, go with the Aga, which seems to be the direction you're headed based on your post. I'm personally not a fan of burners with dedicated power but that's my style.

          1. Thanks for the thoughts; it helps a lot.

            I am really trying to sort out which would serve me better. The larger 36" of the Aga rangetop would give me more space to move things around on the stove. But, when I was doing my research I decided I really would like open burners; this is something I'd be giving up with the Aga, and I do wonder how much having the close burner over the open really cuts down on cooking power. .Or, would I be better off with the smaller 30" that has the more powerful burners? I know so mamy people say to make sure you can get the most powerful burners you can. So, that is one of the reasons I am asking this question because I know there is no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. Actually, all of these choices I am looking at have different burners with different sizes rather than all four being the same capacity. I am not so worried about things like making cookies with the smaller Aga ovens because I also have a wall oven.

            I guess I should also say this is natural gas not propane.

            2 Replies
            1. re: juliest

              I have cooked on both in several old client's kitchens.I like both,so two questions

              How does it feel to you moving things around the top of each,heavy pans etc?To me 5'10" tall they are very different in the physical sense,again I like both.

              How do you use an oven?Interior size and racks are very different in your two choices.
              Hope this helps

              1. re: juliest

                The amount of power has nothing to do with closed or open burners. It has to do with the BTU rating, which is the amount of heat produced. Thermador makes a 22K sealed burner. If you like the AGA, you can use cast iron to get a really hot surface if you need it. It holds heat and if you preheat it long enough, it will be plenty hot. My initial choices on my last go around were Bluestar and Heartland Legacy but I ended up with a Wolf DF because I liked the oven. The 16K burners have been plenty of heat for me and idea that the flames go around a pot are silliness unless you have 5 inch pots and have the heat on high, but this would be true of almost any burner. We didn't choose the Heartland because the dealer was discouraging. The Heartland Legacy is no longer made and I actually saw a blue one a few years ago at a Homegoods for 1/2 price. There were some issues with BS that eliminated it for us. Good Luck with your choice.